In December I wrote this article pointing out that the Pentagon's own assessment of Iran's nuclear program was at the worst a deterrent against an attack from Israel or the US, and at best not a weapons program. Since then the talk of attacking Iran by either the US or Israel has escalated despite no new evidence emerging that points to a Iranian nuclear weapons program. There has only been speculation on behalf of those who would like to see regime change in Tehran.
The latest US National Intelligence report on Iran presented to Congress by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, just one month ago in February stated that:
As reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to date, Iran in late October 2011 had about 4,150 kg of 3.5 percent LEUF and about 80 kg of 20-percent enriched UF produced at Natanz. Iran confirmed on 9 January that it has started enriching uranium for the first time at its second enrichment plant, near Qom.
The 20 percent enriched uranium is the closest Iran has come to weapons grade uranium and it is still not any where near the 90% enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon. So while it is arguable that Iran has the capability to pursue a nuclear weapon, there is no proof that they have crossed a line towards creation of the weapon. The stated goal of the 20 percent enriched uranium is to be used in a medical facility in Tehran.
The US intelligence report goes on to say:
Tehran views its conventionally armed missiles as an integral part of its strategy to deter, and if necessary retaliate against, forces in the region including US forces. Its ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and if so armed, would fit into this strategy.
This reinforces the idea that an Iranian nuclear program does not worry Israel or Pentagon officials as a first strike weapon, but rather as a deterrent against regime change in Iran, carried out by Israel and the US.
Clapper has pointed to his agency's assessment of the Iran nuclear scenario which states that Iran is still weighing the cost-benefit analysis when it comes to moving towards a nuclear weapon program away from a civilian nuclear program. Theoretically those interested in attacking Iran and achieving regime change would like to push Iran down the path of nuclear weaponization and then be able to point to evidence as a pretext for severe military action that would result in the desired result of regime change.
During the reign of the Shah up until the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran was the jewel in the west's crown much as Saudi Arabia is today. The West would love nothing more than to return to a similar relationship with Iran, and some in Washington think such a relationship is achievable if they could oust the current power structure in Tehran and install a Western friendly puppet.
So the real crime that Iran is committing is not directly threatening the US or Israel but rather acting as a soverign country and being the sole beneficiaries of their natural resources. They have chosen not to buddy up to the US and the West as Saudia Arabia or the UAE have in the last several decades to the detriment of their populations but to the benefit of their elite and the US.
About the Author: Shaun Booth is editor of MilwaukeeStory.com.